[PS4 Musical Review] Amplitude
Harmonix, who you probably know because of the Rock Band series, finally gave us something we’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time: a new Amplitude! Several of you might not remember the original Amplitude, which was released on PlayStation 2 way back in 2003 (which in video game years, means it was released back when us old timers played video games with stones, sticks and leaves), and you certainly don’t remember Frequency, it’s prequel from 2001, but for those of us who were alive and gaming during that period, these two were a breath of fresh air.
In order to make the new Amplitude a reality, Harmonix took to Kickstarter to seek $775,000 in funding from fans. After a very hard (and only 18 days long) Kickstarter campaign (which I backed) that managed to reach it’s goal and ended up with $884,127 in pledges, Harmonix got to work on a sequel that would be similar to what the PS2 game of the same name offered, but with many distinct differences.
Before I go any further, I’ll answer the important question in your mind: is Amplitude on PS4 fun? The answer is yes, Amplitude on PS4 is a very fun music game. And with that out of the way, there is one questions that is probably building up on your end right now: Is the music on the new Amplitude as diverse as the original release, with songs from lots of established bands? That would be a no. For some of you, this might be a deal-breaker, but please read on and give the game a chance!
There’s no Blink-182, no David Bowie, no Garbage and certainly no Weezer for Amplitude on PS4. This was to be expected after the game didn’t explode on Kickstarter. I was certainly expecting it to break past the $1 million mark, but that wasn’t the case. This means that Harmonix barely had the money to make the game, and with music licensing being a very expensive endeavor… but fear not! The good news is that Amplitude on PS4 features more songs than the original Amplitude (30 songs on PS4!) and that they’re all great and definitely fit with the game’s new vision.
Things kick-off with what can best be described as a concept album of 15 songs created by Harmonix. This concept album takes care of presenting to us a sort of Campaign Mode where the Beat Blaster we are controlling is working hard to repair the brain of a comatose patient. Because of this, the feel of each of the songs in the concept album – as well as the lyrics – complements the overall narrative and story arc. The fifteen songs are as follows.
1. Prefrontal Cortex
“01 Perfect Brain”
“05 Break For Me”
2. Temporal Lobe
“06 Decode Me”
“08 Human Love”
3. Limbic System
12 Digital Paralysis”
Gameplay remains the same as on the previous Amplitude release. Players are tasked with completing tracks that represent an instrument (and the vocals) of a song, and completing a section will “lock” that track (make it play until you have to repeat the process for said particular track) as you move onto the next one. This is done by hitting the corresponding button on the DualShock 4 (using the L and R buttons or the face buttons on the controller) on time to the beat as each colored circle passes below the Beat Blaster. The more notes you blast on time, the higher your multiplier and combo which, as expected, helps you get a higher score for the song.
If you’re not very good at rhythm games, you can stay at the lower difficulty setting to enjoy your time with all songs. But if you’re up for a challenge, I’d suggest you gradually increase the difficulty as you get used to the game’s nuances (especially due to “barely there” delay between when you press a button and the action triggers on the screen that might throw you off if you’re coming from playing Amplitude on PS2 on an old TV) or else the game will kindly hand you your ass.
Amplitude doesn’t have online multiplayer (it was part of the game’s stretch goals on the Kickstarter but they didn’t make it there, but it does feature local co-op for up to 4 players. There is, however, an online leaderboard so that you can aim at securing a spot on the top spots.
Trophy hunters will be working hard to get all the trophies in the game due to the nature of the full trophy list. That Platinum trophy will definitely require a lot of skill. Amplitude veterans know that playing on Expert almost requires you to grow another hand or two, and one trophy in particular – Fluid Inteligence – kindly asks that you complete the 15-song Campaign Mode on Expert difficulty… without failing, retrying, or quitting. So, good luck with that one!
There have been no news on if DLC will be making its way to Amplitude…yet. Harmonix has stated that it all depends on how well the game does and if there’s a substantial install base for it to make financial sense, so here’s hoping!
[review pros=”Great song selection.
Online leaderboards” cons=”Electronic music focus might not be for everyone” score=85]
This review is based on a copy of Amplitude provided by Harmonix.